CARRYING THE CROSS
The story of the crucifixion, proclaimed on the Feast of Christ the King, reminds us followers of Jesus that his Reign isn’t a reign of glory and power, but of service, love, and complete self-giving in order to rescue human beings from evil, sin, and death.
Used to proclaiming the «victory of the Cross», we run the risk of forgetting that the Crucified One has nothing to do with a false triumphalism that empties of meaning the most sublime gesture of God’s humble service toward God’s creatures. The Cross isn’t a kind of trophy that we show others proudly, but the symbol of God’s crucified Love that invites us to follow God’s example.
We sing, adore, kiss Christ’s Cross because in the bottom of our being we feel the need to give God thanks for God’s unfathomable love, but without forgetting that the first thing Jesus asks of us insistently isn’t to kiss the Cross, but to carry it. And this consists simply in following his footsteps with responsibility and commitment, knowing that the path takes us sooner or later to share his painful destiny.
We aren’t allowed to come close to the mystery of the Cross passively, without any intention of carrying it. That’s why we need to be very careful about certain celebrations that could create an attractive but dangerous atmosphere around the Cross, if they distract us from the faithful following of the Crucified One, making us live out the illusion of a Christianity without the Cross. It’s precisely when kissing the Cross when we need to hear Jesus’ call: «If you want to be a follower of me… then take up your cross and follow me».
For Jesus’ followers, to claim the Cross is to come close to those who are crucified in service; to introduce justice where the defenseless are being abused; to reclaim compassion where there is only indifference in the face of those who suffer. This will bring us conflict, rejection and suffering. It will be our humble way of carrying Christ’s Cross.
The Catholic theologian Johann Baptist Metz insists on the danger that the image of the Crucified One hides from us the faces of those who are being crucified today. In the Christianity of well-off countries we find a very serious phenomenon, according to him: «The Cross doesn’t upset anyone, it has no sting; it has lost the tension of the following of Jesus, it calls us to no responsibility, except that of getting rid of it».
Don’t we all need to reexamine what is our true attitude before the Crucified One? Don’t we need to come close to him with more responsibility and more commitment?
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf